The Government keeps saying that it wants to help small employers, and then suggests unworkable or inappropriate ideas. From which you will probably gather that the latest ConDem proposal for protected conversations to tackle workplace disputes is not the way forward.
Last week, David Cameron said he plans to introduce ‘protected conversations’ in the workplace. The idea is that manager or worker can request a protected conversation in which they can speak directly about an employee’s poor work performance without the contents of that meeting coming back to haunt them at tribunal at a later date. Thus (in theory at least), employers would be able to point out where employees are falling short without receiving a constructive dismissal claim. And employees, who wish to, will be able to raise concerns about a manager but fear that disciplinary action would be taken against them if they speak out.
After the outrage expressed in all quarters following the idea of the “no-fault dismissal” suggested by venture capitalist Adrian Beecroft, this is seen as a compromise. While the theory may be OK, in practice one has to ask how it’s going to work… For example, many staff who feel that they’re being unfairly treated secretly record conversations. If clearly discriminatory comments are recorded, will these still be inadmissible?
We always try to avoid off the records conversations now, because it’s notoriously difficult to ensure that any off the record chat can’t be used. I can’t really see that this is going to crack the problem.
Time will tell. For now, managing poor work performance is all about collecting evidence and following the disciplinary process correctly. Give us a call if any of your employees are not meeting your standards.
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